The Power That Works Within Us - Bob Sawvelle

In Mark 6:45-56, the story is told of Jesus directing the disciples to get into a boat and to cross over the Sea of Galilee to the city of Bethsaida.  The scripture indicates in vs. 45 that Jesus strongly urged the disciples to get into the boat and go to the other side, while He stayed behind to dismiss the multitude and to pray alone on the mountain.  This event occurs right after Jesus performs the miracle of multiplying the five loaves and two fishes for the crowd that exceeded five thousand.

The Disciples Have to be Convinced

The disciples had no choice in the matter; Jesus strongly urged them to get into the boat and go before Him to the other side.  It would seem that Jesus had to convince the disciples to go.


I believe that the disciples resisted crossing the lake to the other side for two reasons.  First, the disciples knew that the Sea of Galilee was prone to storms during that time of the year.  As fishermen, they had experienced storms on the sea and knew that it would not be wise to venture out in the evening hours.  Often God sends us into difficult situations that we would not choose and would be contrary to our natural understanding.

Perhaps there is a greater purpose, and we are unaware of God’s plan through the circumstances leading up to the outcome.  It’s during the “crossings of the sea”, going as He directs in our day to day lives, that our faith is tested.  The question for us is, “Will we trust God even when it goes against our understanding?”  The depth of our faith stems from the depth of our trust in our heavenly Father and His promises.

The second reason that the disciples resisted the leading of Jesus to cross the sea was that they had previously encountered a storm on the Galilee with Him.  We see the event explained in Mark 4:35-41.  In this account, Jesus tells the disciples, “Let us cross over to the other side.”  In the midst of their trip, a great windstorm arose, and the boat was beginning to fill with water.

Teacher, Do You not Care?

Jesus, however, was asleep in the back of the boat!  The disciples awakened Jesus, and exclaimed, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”  Jesus arose, rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!”  The scripture says that the wind ceased and there was a great calm.

How often we find ourselves, like the disciples, in the midst of a storm or trial and wonder why Jesus isn’t quicker to respond to our current situation.  Perhaps it seems like Jesus is asleep, unaware of your situation, and your prayers seem unanswered.  I believe that the Lord would remind us today that, “He is not asleep in our situations!”  God is not asleep in our lives, nor in the difficulties that we face each and every day.  The God of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps!  He is always watching over His people and waits for them to call upon Him to quiet the storms they are in.  In Psalm 50:15, we are encouraged to “Call upon Me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver you, and you shall glorify My name.”  What a promise from our heavenly Father, who loves and knows us intimately!

Has God ‘Left?’

In Mark 6:46, we see that Jesus sent the multitude away, and then departed to the mountain to pray.  The disciples were alone on the sea, and Jesus was alone on the mountain.  The disciples no longer had His manifest presence in their midst.  It may have seemed to them like “God left”, but Jesus was, in fact, watching over them.

Have you ever felt like “God left”?  One day His presence seems so strong, and the very next it seems like He is nowhere to be found!  Jesus promised us that, “I will be with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).  Will we continue to trust God even when His tangible presence is no longer felt?

God will often send us into situations that may be difficult and contrary to what we would choose. God is always good, but He is not always predictable. We must trust Him more than our natural understanding.

King David, a man after God’s own heart, often complained in the Psalms of God’s seeming absence. (Psalm 10:1; Psalm 22:1; Psalm 43:2). God hadn’t really left David, and he doesn’t leave you or me.

As Christians we can experience a sense of isolation from God as we follow Jesus. It can be unsettling and painful, but growth occurs if you remain faithful to the call. When you are a new Christian, God gives lots of confirming emotions. Often, even self-centered prayers are answered so that you’ll know that He exists.

However, faith grows as trust deepens. Know that God’s omnipresence and is tangible presence are two different things. His omnipresence is a fact. He is always with us. However, His tangible or manifest presence is an awareness. YOU MUST KNOW that God is always with you despite what your emotions or feelings indicate. God wants you to sense His presence, but He is more concerned that you learn to trust Him rather than merely “feel Him.” It’s called the FAITH, not the FEEL!

Will you trust God even when you don’t sense His tangible presence? Don’t rely on what you see, feel, or are experiencing: rely on His word. Stand on God’s word that declares He is always with you!  His eye is on every bird that falls to the ground, He knows every hair of your head, He knows your sitting down and rising up, and your thoughts from afar; oh what intimate knowledge and care He has for you!  He said that after His death and resurrection, He would not leave us orphans, but that the Holy Spirit would come to teach, lead and comfort us.  Rest in the assurance that Jesus is always with you through the precious Holy Spirit!

In vs. 48 of Mark 6, we see that Jesus saw the disciples were toiling or straining at rowing because the wind was against them.  The Greek word used here for straining is basanizo, which means to “vex with grievous pains of mind or body, to torment, to be harassed, or distressed”.  In this context, the picture that we see of the disciples that evening was that they were distressed, tormented, and vexed with grievous pains of mind and body as they were rowing.  How often we find ourselves rowing against the storms of this life in our own strength, vexed with grievous pains, tormented, distressed and harassed by the winds against us!  Jesus saw their struggle that night, and He sees the struggles we are in!  He knows when we are distressed and tormented by life’s storms, as we move ahead in His plans and purposes for our lives.

Sometimes, to mature your friendship, God will allow times of SEEMING separation—it may even feel like abandonment. Don’t give up on your pursuit of Him!

What are you struggling with today?

Perhaps you are struggling with the cares of daily life.  You may feel like the crush of the monthly bills and expenses are too much to carry.  Jesus sees your struggle and knows the pain you are in.  In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus tells us not to worry about our lives, what we will wear, or what we will eat or drink.  He says that after all these things the unbelievers worry and strive after.  Jesus said that the Father knows what we have need of before we even ask of Him!

He said that we are to seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and then all of these things will be given to us.  Jesus said several times in this passage not to worry, that worry wouldn’t change our height, much less our situations.  It’s important for us to understand that worry won’t change our situations, but faith & trust in our Father’s ability to keep His word will!  Keep in mind that when Jesus spoke these words in Matthew 6 to the people of Israel, they were under oppressive Roman rule that exacted heavy taxes from them.  The people were harassed, distressed and suffering.  He said not to worry and strive, but to seek first the Kingdom, and the Father would provide!

Perhaps you are struggling with illness or disease, or perhaps it’s a broken marriage, or maybe it’s a problem with one of your children.  No matter what the circumstance or trial is, the Father promises to meet the need you have, and the provision has already been made through the atoning death of Christ.  Jesus not only carried our sin to the cross, but He carried all of our sickness, pains and sorrows there as well.  The Father promises to meet all of our needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus!

Don’t allow the circumstances of this life to hinder your effectiveness in ministry or to prevent you from walking a victorious Christian life.  Psalm 55:22 says to “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.”  We are to place all of our cares and burdens on the Lord, allowing Him to carry the load, as we move ahead in our lives and ministries.

Some struggle because of sin in their lives. You may be rowing, trying to get across the sea, but the weight of sin is hindering you as you move ahead.  We need to heed the admonishment of Hebrews 12:1 that tells us to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us”.

Rowing with Jesus

I encourage you to turn from every sin and to let go of worldly influences in your life that would hinder your walk with the Father.  The Father stands, waiting with open arms for us to return to Him, and as we take those steps toward Him, he runs to us, embraces us, and showers us with His love and blessings!  What love and care the Father has for us!  Receive His love for you today, and know that His love for you is greater than any sin you may have committed.

Faith in the Midst of Uncertainty - Bob SawvelleAlso in vs. 48 of Mark 6 we read that Jesus came to them hours later, walking on the water, and would have passed them by.  Can you see the contrast between the disciples, struggling, distressed, and rowing against the fierce winds and Jesus calmly walking on the sea in the midst of the storm?  Rowing with Jesus should not be a struggle, but a peaceful resting in Him as He takes us through the storms and difficulties of this life.  We are to be yoked together with Him (Matt. 11:28-30) and He promises to carry our burdens and give us true rest.

Our life in Christ should be a calm walk through the storms and difficulties of this life because we are intimately yoked to Jesus, keeping our eyes constantly on Him.  When we take our eyes off of Jesus, and look at the wind and waves around us, it’s then that we lose our peace and trust.  In Isaiah 26:3, the prophet declares that, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”

Recognizing the Hand of God

In vs. 49 we see that the disciples were so busy rowing that they didn’t recognize Jesus walking to them on the water.  The fear of their situation prevented them from recognizing that this was Jesus, the very answer to their problem.  How often we allow the worries, fears, and cares of this life to cloud our view of Jesus.

Often He comes to us in the midst of the storm and we don’t even recognize Him.  Perhaps it’s a friend that stops by to pray with us, or maybe it’s someone coming to help during a difficult time. Perhaps it’s the gentle leading of the Holy Spirit to a passage in scripture that will encourage us during our trial, or that still small voice from Him that comforts and guides.  Take a moment and think of the ways that God has come to you in your situation today to help you.  Do you recognize Him and His hand at work in your life?  Know that He is always near!  In vs. 50 Jesus declares, “Be of good cheer!  It is I; do not be afraid.”    Jesus steps into the boat, and the wind ceased.  This is the great “I Am” declaring that He is in our midst, do not be afraid!  As we trust Him, He will calm the storms that we too are in.

In vs. 51 and 52 we read that the disciples were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure when they saw the storm calmed by Jesus.  They did not understand because their hearts were hard and full of unbelief.  The twelve disciples had been with Jesus, they had seen many miracles and had witnessed the power of God.  They had even been used by God to heal the sick and cast out demons.

Trust & Keep a Soft Heart

They had just witnessed the miracle of the loaves and fishes, yet their hearts were hard.  Because of their unbelief, they were not able to apply His power and grace to their own situation.  Unbelief will stop the power of God in our lives!  In Nazareth, Jesus could do no mighty miracles there, only heal a few sick people, because of their unbelief.

In Hebrews 11:6 the writer tells us that “…without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”  Our level of faith will depend on our level of trust in the One who has made the promise.  A promise is only as good as the character, nature and ability of the one who has promised it.  With God, He is not like men, who could possibly lie to us or turn back upon what they have promised.  With our Heavenly Father, we can completely trust Him, for His promises are sure!

How Well do you Know the Father?

Many Christians know what God’s word says and what He has promised to do for His children; yet, they still have a hard time believing that He will answer their prayers, or meet their needs.  The root issue is this, “how well do we know our Heavenly Father?”  The more intimately that we know Him, the more deeply we can trust Him, and the more convinced we are that He will keep His promises.

I encourage you to draw close to the Father each and every day.  Unfortunately, many believers give God only a couple of hours on Sunday morning; but He longs to meet with us each and everyday, and throughout our day!  He longs for us to come near, and how He longs for us just to sit at His feet for awhile!  As we do, our faith and trust in Him grows as we begin to know Him more intimately.  He has not left us orphans, but has sent the Holy Spirit, to make this intimacy possible.

In verse 53, they arrived in the land of the Gennesaret, and when the people knew that it was Jesus, they ran through the region bringing the sick to Him wherever He went.  The scripture says they laid the sick in the streets and as many as touched Him were made well.  The entire region was touched by the Father’s love, and it began as a stormy boat ride for the disciples!  Can you imagine the joy of the people in that area, and what about the excitement and joy of the disciples as they witnessed God’s love and power change lives.

We often don’t see what is ahead for us, but our Father does.  Yes, this life can be hard and storms are frequent, but what joy when we see others touched by the Father’s love flowing through us!  God wants to use us, just everyday believers, to carry His love and healing power to a world that so desperately needs His touch.  Will you go and will you trust Him in the midst of the “sea”, knowing that He will take care of you in all of life’s situations?

Remember that Jesus is with you always, even in the midst of the storm!

For a more in-depth look at trusting in God, watch this message from Passion Church: The Book of Mark: Are You Straining or Trusting?

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Bob Sawvelle

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